For a joyous, breathtaking two hours yesterday, Bangla-desh seemed like a proper Test side. What deceptive larks they were. In the after-noon sunshine, Tamim Iqbal made merry, as is his wont. Then the wheels came off and the bandwagon collapsed again.
Following a first-wicket partnership of 126, the tourists finished the second day of the Second Test 216 all out. They are 203 behind. England might ask them to follow on today. Normal service has been resumed.
The pitch is turning and Graeme Swann, England's cricketer of the year, hit the campaign trail towards retaining the title with his seventh five-wicket tally in Tests. The debutant fast bowler, Ajmal Shahzad, having been rather mauled in his maiden spell, responded wonderfully with three wickets in his second in nine balls. That is what is called a burst.
But Tamim was sheer joy. He is now less an irritant, albeit a jolly dashing one, than a virtuoso. His innings was typically brilliant, at once fearless and purposeful. It was his second hundred of the series and his fifth consecutive score of above 50 against England, who will thus be detained in this match longer than they can either have anticipated or desired.
Almost single-handedly, Tamim is demonstrating that Bangladesh do indeed deserve a place at cricket's high table. His third Test hundred in response to England's total of 419 came from 100 balls, rapid but perfectly routine.
When he was gone the wheels came off. It looked a different game, it was a different game. Swann, who was becoming perplexed at Tamim's mistreatment of him, suddenly looked a changed proposition. The ball has turned almost from the start, and whereas when Tamim was tucking in Swann looked as lethal as a glow-worm, he now became a hissing, spitting cobra.
In the morning, Ian Bell made the 11th Test hundred of his career, as always pleasantly assembled with a place for everything and everything in its place. Bell grows by the match. Matt Prior fell seven runs short of his third Test hundred, though he took his Test batting average back above 40. It was an atypical Prior innings, and it jolly well ought to have exploded the ridiculous notion that his place is somehow under threat.
Another theory – recently becoming practice – that should have bitten the dust is the one held in England's corridors of power that four bowlers can see off any opposition. Like, say, Australia this winter.
England again failed to take a new- ball wicket and, largely courtesy of Tamim, were faced with another century opening partnership. Options soon ran out. Of course the batting will be weakened by being reduced from six in number, but something has to give. Prior might have given them pause for further thought by making 93 and putting on 153 with Bell for the sixth wicket. Prior might not quite be an authentic Test No 6, perhaps being more like a 6 1/2, but the batting beneath him in a first-choice side should be strong enough to take it.
It is being widely presumed that Prior will lose his place in the one-day squad when it is announced on Thursday. Craig Kieswetter, the hard-hitting South African, is flavour of the year, and if he is picked to open the batting the selectors may decide that he should keep wicket as well.
They must not easily discard Prior and should not consider doing so in the Test XI. His batting yesterday was not at its most lucid but again displayed what an unselfish player he is. Prior likes to bat with a touch of zest, quite belying his bank clerk's baldness, but he recognised here that the team needed not raciness but solidity.
Maybe it suited his purposes, because he must have felt Kieswetter's breath on his neck. He played the odd jerky shot, mis-hooking just short of midwicket and looking decidedly edgy as he approached three figures. He was eventually out reverse sweeping, a shot he not only telegraphed but made a porridge of. But a stay of almost four hours can only have been of benefit.
Bell had left the scene by then, having added the 13 he needed for his century from 22 balls in the morning. He was bowled by a ball from Shakib Al Hasan that turned viciously. In the context of the match, England (and Swann) might have been quietly delighted.
They were all out half an hour after lunch and then Tamim put his usual imprint on proceedings. He flirted with danger, but then he always does. Imrul Kayes at the other end was much more prosaic, but he was not of a mind to play any false shots either.
Tamim reached his first 50 from 43 balls, and as he approached his hundred he eschewed orthodoxy completely, unfurling some dreadful smears and hoicks. The first wicket was the breach England needed, Kayes hooking Steve Finn to long-leg, where Shahzad made his first significant intervention by pouching the catch comfortably.
Wickets fell all too easily thereafter, Bangladesh's ineptitude all too obvious. Swann had three men caught behind the wicket as the ball bit and took the edge, and bowled Jahurul Islam.
Shahzad's first wicket was that of Mohammad Ashraful, who carved him to point. There was no stopping him after that and England took all 10 wickets in the evening session.
Old Trafford Scoreboard
England won toss
England – First innings
(Overnight 275-5: K P Pietersen 64)
I R Bell b Shakib Al Hassan
(255 balls, 12 fours, 1 six): 128
†M J Prior c Jahurul Islam b Shakib Al Hassan
(170 balls, 9 fours): 93
G P Swann lbw b Abdur Razzak
(17 balls, 3 fours): 20
A Shahzad c Abdur Razzak b Shakib Al Hassan
(12 balls, 1 four): 5
J M Anderson not out
(17 balls): 2
S T Finn lbw b Shakib Al Hassan
(2 balls): 0
Extras (b6 lb5 w4 nb 2): 17
Total (121.3 overs): 419
Fall (cont): 6-376 (Bell), 7-399 (Swann), 8-414 (Shahzad), 9-419 (Prior), 10-419 (Finn).
Bowling: Shahadat Hossain 21-3-84-1, Shafiul Islam 21-2-63-2, Mahmudullah 12-1-31-0, Shakib Al Hassan 37.3-4-121-5, Abdur Razzak 30-3-109-2.
Bangladesh – First innings
Tamim Iqbal c Prior b Anderson
(114 balls, 11 fours, 1 six): 108
Imrul Kayes c Shahzad b Finn
(71 balls, 4 fours): 36
Junaid Siddique c Prior b Swann
(13 balls): 1
Jahurul Islam b Swann
(14 balls, 1 four): 5
Mohammad Ashraful c Morgan b Shahzad
(45 balls, 1 four): 11
Shakib Al Hassan c Anderson b Swann
(20 balls, 2 fours): 10
†Mushfiqur Rahim c Anderson b Swann
(23 balls, 1 four): 11
Mahmudullah b Shahzad
(10 balls, 1 four): 8
Shafiul Islam b Shahzad
(9 balls, 1 four): 4
Abdur Razzak not out
(7 balls): 0
Shahadat Hossain lbw b Swann
(2 balls): 0
Extras (b4 lb7 w8 nb 3): 22
Total (54.1 overs): 216
Fall: 1-126 (Imrul Kayes), 2-153 (Junaid Siddique), 3-169 (Tamim Iqbal), 4-169 (Jahurul Islam), 5-185 (Shakib Al Hassan), 6-200 (Mohammad Ashraful), 7-210 (Mahmudullah), 8-214 (Shafiul Islam), 9-216 (Mushfiqur Rahim), 10-216 (Shahadat Hossain).
Bowling: J M Anderson 14-4-45-1, S T Finn 8-1-39-1, G P Swann 22.1-4-76-5, A Shahzad 10-2-45-3.
Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and E A R de Silva (SL).
Match referee: A G Hurst (Aus).
TV Umpire: R A Kettleborough.